Chickpeas – Interesting Facts

The chickpea is often associated with Middle Eastern dishes but the herbaceous plant, which has a lifespan of one year, originated during the Neolithic Age in Anatolia, which mostly comprises of present-day Turkey. It reached the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and India via trade routes. The chickpea plant can grow up to 8 metres high and prefers subtropical regions.

Food Facts Food Facts

Chickpeas (cooked and preserved)

Class

cicer

Calories

135 kcal per 100g

Nutrients

17.7g carbohydrate, 6.2g fibre, 2g fat, 7.4g protein per 100g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store cool, dark, dry at 18 to 22°C room temperature

Shelf life

a few years

Chickpeas – The Origin of the Name

Chickpeas are a staple food in places such as South America, Africa and Asia. The main cultivation areas are India, Australia and Pakistan, but Turkey and Mexico also produce a large amount of chickpeas. Chickpeas are round and yellow with a diameter ranging between 10 and 15 millimetres. They are crunchy, have a floury consistency inside and have a pleasant nutty taste. The name comes from the Latin term Cicer Arietinum. They are also known as garbanzo beans in American English. 

Chickpeas – From Dried to Cooked

Chickpeas come in two varieties – precooked in glass jars or tins, or dried. The tinned chickpeas are ready to be eaten or cooked immediately, but dried chickpeas on the other hand require a lot more preparation time. Dried chickpeas need to be soaked in water before cooking – even after soaking for 12 hours, the chickpeas require a cooking time of two hours. Use fresh water for cooking because the uncooked chickpeas contain toxins that dissolve during the soaking process. 

Chickpeas – Hummus and Falafel

The classic and most-loved chickpea dish is hummus – a Middle Eastern paste made from blended chickpeas with tahini (ground sesame), lemon juice, olive oil, and other spices. Hummus is often served as a starter or a dip that is delicious with vegetable sticks or flatbread. Chickpeas are also the main ingredient for falafel. Blend the chickpeas with some salt, cayenne pepper, garlic, cumin, parsley and coriander. Form small balls out of the dough and fry them. They make an excellent filling for pita bread, and are great with a selection of roasted vegetables. 

Chickpeas – Spicy and Versatile

Chickpeas find their way into many popular meals such as soups, stews, and rice or couscous dishes. Whether combined with meat or without, chickpeas are a great option for vegetarians as they contain lots of protein. Their subtle taste lends itself well to a range of spices; they are well suited to strong Far Eastern and Mediterranean spices such as chilli, curry, cumin, garlic, ginger and cloves. 

Chickpeas – Protein-Rich and Filling

Thanks to their nutritional content, chickpeas are a valuable staple food that work well in a balanced diet. They are low in fat, contain a moderate amount of carbohydrates and plenty of vegetable protein, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Chickpeas make the perfect restorative food after a busy or stressful day. The potassium and phosphorous in chickpeas help control energy metabolism and contribute towards healthy muscles. 

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